Kolkata – 17 hour layover from hell

Are you a slave to consistency? Do you wince at a white towel that is now more a dingy grey? Do you have a need for a basic human level of hygiene? Then budget lodging in India is not for you!

Still woozy from the sickly sweet, opiate level high of Varanasi, Brittany and I set forth on our adventure to the Andaman Islands! We got a sweet deal, I mean a real sweet deal on airline tickets, $200 apiece, only there’s a catch. What Sean? You, dear reader may ask, might there be more airline fees?  Perhaps a “Tax” you have to pay? No no, the catch is a 17 hour layover in Kolkata.

Being the intrepid and ever adventurous travelers we are, we say No Problem! Book us those tickets dear Kayak.com. Now we’ll just find a hostel……what….no hostels….and all the hotels are $200 USD a night? Surely you must be mistaken, we didn’t select Dubai, this isn’t Tokyo, Piccadilly square or gay old Paris, surely Kolkata has anaccommodation commiserate with our tight budgets….Oh….well what have we here. A hotel for $17 a night you say. 1 and a half stars? Well surely the half counts for something right Brittany? Let’s book it!

An hour cab ride from the airport later, we arrive at what I can only describe as the place junkies go to die…when the dark alleyways just won’t hold the mood. You know the halfway house in Shawkshank redemption, where Brooks hangs himself from the ceiling? That place must have had 2 stars.

You have to view the full size to appreciate it

The walls are naturally a yellow color, a marigold on a better day, but coated in dark dirty hand and foot marks, a widows veil on what once might have been a respite from the heat and humidity of the Kolkata streets. The ceiling fan rattles incessantly, the one fixture in this room I’m thankful for. The two single beds fill the 7×7 room, a foot gap between them. I dare not lift the stained covers for fear of what lurks beneath, a boogeyman with whom I’ve reached a tenuous armistice. The bathroom door is reinforced with steel, an expenditure I have no desire to know the reason for, dirty cups are available for us to drink from the rusty spigot of the sink, and a TV, modern in the early 80s, plays a nice selection of static and local commercials. There’s an anchor in the ceiling, a round loop of metal, likely welded to a girder, a place for those who want to hang themselves I imagine, a line item approved by management after one too many hangings ruined the fans I’d suppose.

Our fabulous Kolkata hotel

There’s a freaking permanent red lightbulb in the wall…. I cannot, ever in my life, imagine a good, wholesome, non-seedy, not creepy reason for there to be a red light in a bedroom. I can only assume the spy cameras they’re using still use film and they’re developing it in the room next door. I hope I’m proven to be a jackass, and it’s a cultural thing for all rooms in Kolkata to have a red light in them, for hope luck and prosperity, but my guess is if you turned on a UV light in this room it’d glow brighter than the white hot magnesium flames that would be needed to sanitize this place.

There are some pluses, don’t get me wrong. You just have to look at it from a different angle. Think of your shower at home, I bet you can’t even tell me what brand it is. How many individual nozzles it has. Is there a white ring where hard water has left calcium deposits? Is there plumbers tape holding the whole thing together ever so carefully? You know why you don’t know the answer to these questions? Because when you turn the handle, the thing freaking works. When you stand naked, dripping with sweat from the lack of AC, your dark stained towel in the corner of the grime coated bathroom, on the tile floors that have never seen a bucket of bleach, and you turn the knob to the shower, do you know the anticipation you feel? The raw, blatting cries from within your reptilian brain. The urge to be clean, so primal, the knowledge that any moment, you will be baptized in a water so unfit to drink that you carry a 50 count bottle of cipro. Do you know that feeling when nothing happens? A really good movie, with an M Night Shamalan ending? When the fire within you is snuffed out, when you’re carried over the precipice only to be dropped to the ground. When the perceived twinkling starlight turns out to be nothing more than headlights after a four day bender and the Milky Way is the slick drip of oil out of the rusted out jalopy on the corner.

Oh, and i think they have bedbugs too.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Sean Collins says:

    that is some powerfully worded imagery, way to channel Upton Sinclair!

  2. Richard says:

    Sounds lovely, really!
    Anyway, a cheap and easy way to avoid bedbugs and other crawling things is to get pure lavender oil and sprinkle some drops around the the edges of the bed and pillow. The critters will run in fear and the bed will smell better too. Don’t ask me how I know this.

  3. Adam says:

    I love reading your stories man! I feel like I am sitting right there going “Oh we’ll, glad I don’t know what that other half star is for, but I am glad for it!?”

  4. susan says:

    ohhh, Seanie..what a tale. I only wish it were fabricated. Glad it was only for 17 hours…now, fill us in on the bamboo house in the islands. PULEZE be nice..don’t let the bedbugs bite.

  5. Chris-illionaire says:

    That sounds awesome! It kind of reminded me of how summer camp always felt but on a much larger scale of gross…..
    Did ya’ll use your bug bite patches? Did they work?

  6. Chris-illionaire says:

    Im sorry Bed Bug Patches?

    • Brittany says:

      No! I totally forgot and was kicking myself the next day. I think i was in a state of shock just thinking “the sooner i sleep, the sooner i wake up, the sooner i can leave…”

  7. James Friauf says:

    Should do yourself a favor and get a real hotel once a month so you don’t forget what civilization feels like. :-)

  8. Tanya Griffin says:

    Ewwwww. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

  9. Juan says:

    I bet at some point you remembered the conversation we had about shaving 😉
    Hugs for both.

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